Hands like ghost stories, hands like creosote,
sleep-walking hands, hands of fruit salesmen,
of dentists, hands like watermelon seeds,
all tendril and taste bud, the gloved hands of surgeons
as they make the first cut. Hands like whispers
and hands like mirrors, hands releasing fireflies
or floating in formaldehyde,
hands kneading the shortbread, hands beating the pillow,
the space between his hands and her throat
and how the space gets smaller.
Hands like blood bags and hands like radio dials,
hands like broken promises,
still as the bottom of a pool, hands holding other hands,
hands after midnight, the hands of the burglar
and the hands of the muse. Hands slick with paint,
with semen, with moonlight, hands reaching
for nipples, for paper, a gun,
hands smelling like lemons, hands soaked
in whiskey, my hands lighting a candle
at the temple of your mouth.
Originally from Moldova, Ruth Madievsky lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, West Branch, Gulf Coast, The Journal, and elsewhere. She writes for Los Angeles Magazine and reads chapbook submissions for Gold Line Press. She is also a doctoral student at USC’s School of Pharmacy and a research assistant at an HIV clinic specializing in maternal care in Downtown Los Angeles. She is working on her first poetry collection as well as a collection of linked stories. You can find her at ruthmadievsky.com.